By Connor MacKenzie @grandepadre94
The San Antonio Spurs used hot shooting and a hungry LaMarcus Aldridge to fuel a game for the ages, a 154-147 2OT thriller. Aldridge had a career high 56 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was white hot all night. Patented turnaround midrange jumper, catch-and-shoot, or old school pound in the paint. Adams did his work to force Aldridge outside, but Aldridge was practically throwing everything into the basket and it was dropping. Adams finished with a solid 19 points and 7 rebounds (and a tweaked ankle with a few minutes left in regulation). Russell Westbrook had one of, if not his best performances of his career, logging 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 24 assists (on 11-22 shooting), and only 3 turnovers.
Every starter was more than effective for the Thunder, from Paul George with 30 points, to Jerami Grant with a new career high 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Terrance Ferguson who was 7-10 from behind the arc contributed 21 points. So one may be asking, “ok Aldridge had 56, but the starters contributed at least 19 points each and Russ had 24 assists, how did we lose?” I forgot to mention, the Spurs at one time were 14-14 from 3, ended 16-19. Marco Belinelli cooked the Thunder for five 3s in the first half, Davis Bertans had four 3s, and resident Thunder killer Patty Mills had three 3s as well. It’s difficult to beat a team when you’re shooting 51 percent from the floor, and they shoot 60 percent. Credit to the Spurs for hitting open shots, contested shots, and the ability to get to the foul line.
The Thunder executed their best performance down the stretch this season. Making the extra pass, and most importantly, making the open shots. Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant hit 3 3s combined within the last 4 minutes to keep the game in one possession or tied. Those two Thunder players continue to improve and earn huge minutes, and the respect of opposing teams when taking a jump shot throughout the game. Ferguson is now 11-14 from behind the arc for the last 2 games.
The Thunder bench was improved getting timely buckets and crucial stops early in the 4th to give Paul George a longer rest after playing the entire 3rd Quarter. The bench tallied 28 points led by Dennis Schroder with 14 and Abdel Nader with 9, but 6 coming off layups in the 4th. As a team the Thunder 43 percent from 3, but 67 percent from the foul line (16-24). That area has got to be cleaned up moving on to Saturday’s rematch with San Antonio at the Peake. Overall this was a stout performance by the Thunder. San Antonio was 10-10 from 3 at half, but only led by 7 due to poor defense and giving up offensive boards to Oklahoma City for the entirety of the game. From Minnesota’s opening possession, which was a turnaround jumper by Wiggins as the shot clock buzzer sounded, Thunder fans knew this would be another battle between these two divisional rivals. Oklahoma City established the low post presence early with Adams, who finished with 20 points on 8-9 shooting with 12 rebounds.